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The Reality Dysfunction [Hardcover]

Peter F. Hamilton
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 2009 Night's Dawn Trilogy (Book 1)
In AD 2600, the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature's boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp. But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal's chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race, which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it "The Reality Dysfunction". It is the nightmare, which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history. "Absolute vintage science-fiction. Hamilton puts British sci-fi back into interstellar overdrive" - "The Times".
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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About the Author

Peter F. Hamilton was born in Rutland in 1960, and still lives near Rutland Water. His previous novels are the Greg Mandel series and the bestselling 'Night's Dawn' trilogy: The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked God. Also published by Macmillan (and Pan) is A Second Chance at Eden, a novella and six short stories, and The Confederation Handbook, a vital guide to the Night's Dawn' trilogy. His most recent novels were Fallen Dragon, Misspent Youth and Pandora's Star. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Considering its many pages, there isn’t that much science in this science fiction book series. There is unfortunately a great deal of religious inference and ‘convenient science fiction’ i.e. wormholes that get you from a to b within seconds and a lot of talk about souls.

After just finishing the third and final book in the Night’s Dawn trilogy, it is in all honesty disappointing. As an Alastair Reynolds & Iain Banks sci-fi reader, Hamilton’s work with this series is really nowhere near their standards. Not all negative, but negative enough.

Way too much religious bias that inevitably dumbs everything down (basically saying ‘magic did it’ at certain points and the classic ‘can’t be moral without a magical invisible man in the sky’ argument), it just stops being science fiction after a while. I can see this appealing to a certain type of religiously motivated individual. If this isn’t you then stay away, there are far better pursuits to engage in and books to read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By fastreader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Peter F Hamilton paints vivid images with his stories. The characters are engaging, imaginative, and relatable. His worlds are logical (Spock would expect no less) and other worldly. The situations that the main characters find them selves in, and his story arcs are believable and entertaining. All his books are massive in concept and page count with this story coming in at 1200+ pages.

But reading his books are a pure escape and time just flies. Hamilton also combines science fiction with fantasy and does both genres justice in his books. As you have already guessed I am a huge fan.

In the beginning we find Dr Alkad Mzu aboard the attack cruiser Beezling when it is attacked by three blackhawks (superior fighting ships) from the Omuta. Dr Mzu had had the cruiser bring her and a device called the Alchemist, which is a star buster, to be hidden until required. The Confederation has adopted this as last resort type of weapon. The attack is successful in that they are now stranded 7 light years from the nearest planet. And we basically leave her there for most of the rest of the book.

We then move to the Ly-cilph home world. After a mere 800 million years the Ly-Cilph claimed a victory when they reached the pinnacle of their evolution - they became transcendent entities.

We then meet the Voidhawk Iasius who has returned to Saturn to die. Voidhawks are born and are affinity linked to their pilots and other Voidhawks.

We soon get into the meat of the book which is the over running of Lalonde. Quinn Dexter, just a punk if you will, is soon in the middle of taking over the planet of 20 million people. Having found the dark brother he starts taking over people by a type of possession, or sequestration as the off planet citizens call it.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  134 reviews
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging Without Being Overly Difficult; Good Balance Feb. 5 2010
By Steven M. Anthony - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read an awful lot of science fiction over the years, and recently returned to the genre after a lengthy absence. In doing so, I made a concerted effort to upgrade my reading list and familiarize myself with the new generation of sci-fi writers. My recent experience has been a real revelation. Whereas in the past, most of the science fiction I consumed was very easy to read and understand (Asimov as an example), some of the works I've sampled in the last year or two have quite literally been over my head.

I read Dune (multiple times) many years ago. I proceeded on to the Dune sequels, but after two or three they became so philosophically dense that I lost interest. I recently read Herbert's widely acknowledged masterpiece The Dosadi Experiment and again was forced to admit that I was incapable of appreciating it fully. Ditto for much of Philip Dick's writing.

In an effort to read all joint Hugo/Nebula Award winners, I ran into a few other such works. Some of the new generation of sci-fi writers have published undeniably outstanding novels that I simply couldn't enjoy fully. Charles Stross, Neal Stephenson and Ian McDonald come immediately to mind. These cats are just too intelligent for me to relate to (and I have a post graduate degree!).

Others, such as Joe Scalzi, David Brin and Joe Haldeman crank out easily understood and entertaining work (in the mode of Asimov), but without all the heavy lifting some of the previously cited authors require. All of this to say, that in Peter Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction I discovered what I felt was a very happy medium: Vastly entertaining, but with just the level of challenge and difficulty that I could master without detracting from my enjoyment of the reading experience. There are some pretty heavy concepts in this novel, yet I never felt that I was lost or over my head. Outstanding example of "hard" science fiction.

One of my science fiction pet peeves are hackneyed alien life forms. Multi armed/legged creatures, insect or other animal like beings, as if alien life forms have to fit into human constructs. Larry Niven's Ringworld is a perfect example (giant cats and Pierson's Puppets). While this novel has some of that, it also has some very intriguing alien life forms which do not fit neatly into our preconceived notions of how an alien may look or behave. It also includes sentient habitats and spaceships, a concept I first encountered in Charles Stross's Saturn's Children.

At over 1,000 pages, and only the first of three books in a series, this is an undertaking that requires a significant time commitment. There are also a dizzying number of plot threads which could be hard to keep straight.
Not the kind of book that you read for a while, put aside and take up again a few weeks later. However, if you're up to the challenge, I don't think you'll be disappointed. On to book two.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book: Space opera with zombies! Aug. 21 2010
By Erin Keiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After reading the reviews online here, I was very hesitant to read this book. I majored in woman's studies in college, and I have little interest in spending time reading a book that is full of misogynist plot lines. To my great surprise, I found that the book was not only an excellent read but very tame compared to hard-core books from other genres.

Hamilton uses a multiple storyline structure in this book and it is very hard to say who the is the main character. I rather liked this approach, mainly because each of the characters had a distinct voice in the book. None of the characters are meant to be utterly sympathetic, nor entirely evil. Hamilton gives each character strong motivations that seem to me to show how the world really works, and not an idealized version you see often in science fiction.

I am not one to spoil a book, so I will not delve very deeply into the plot, but for me I really enjoyed how each plot twist was somehow related to another storyline later down the road. This is a rather Dickensian concept, and I find refreshing for a modern author. Once you get through a few chapters it is easy to tell what is important to the storyline, and what is not by how much time the author takes to describe the setting. This made it very easy for me to keep track of who was what over the 1100+ pages of the book.

And lastly, in regards to the negative reviews here, I really do not agree with the assessment. I kept waiting for a very disturbing scene to happen, or for awful things to be described but that never manifested. This is perhaps because I am a horror junkie, but the violent scenes in the book did not seem gratuitous or excessively descriptive.

I really found very little misogyny in the book, and in fact as I read the book I was impressed by the amount of strong female characters in it. The author does takes a very realistic approach about sex, and perhaps that is where the accusations of misogyny come from. Seriously, it is not wrong for women to want to have sex with another man, and it is not wrong for a man and woman to use each other for that purpose. That is how the world works. People are not priests and nuns, we lead varied and interesting lives and Hamilton is very good at portraying those traits realistically.

In closing, this book was a great read. Do not let the negative reviews bother you, and be prepared for a long read. The best part for me about this book was knowing that once it was over, there were 2 more equally long books that take place after this one. I love being able to find an interesting book and to see how it caries along in a series. 5 stars all the way, and I am glad I gave this book the chance I did.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Endurance test Dec 31 2007
By Edward E. Rom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The only reason that I'm giving this series of books three stars(I'm actually reviewing the whole series of six, not just the first -- it's one long novel in six volumes) is because I actually read the whole thing. I recall a conversation in which a fellow told me that he'd just read five Leo Frankowski novels in a row, and boy! were they bad! I myself have never even read a sentence of Leo Frankowski's writing, so I don't have an opinion on it; my question was, if they were so bad, why did you read five of them in a row?

The reason I read the whole _Night's Dawn_ epic is that I was reading it on breaks and at lunch at work. It took really a long time, and I started bogging down toward the end.

I've glanced at some of the other reviews of this work, and have many of the same criticisms. My greatest complaint about this story is that there is just entirely too much of it! Hamilton could probably have gotten his point across in a third the space (though I suspect that would still have felt bloated): this thing has too many characters, too many subplots, and too much of it comes across as filler. The plot moves forward with a glacial ponderousness, and the end still feels as though he got rushed and came up with sort of a deus ex machina.

I must say, though, that I think Hamilton has gotten much better since he wrote this. I read the _Pandora's Star_ books, and liked them much better than _The Reality Dysfunction_ et. al.

I've noticed other reviewers mentioning Hamilton's inability to get outside the Queen's English. I think it's worse than that. These books are filled with sentence fragments, and every now and then he uses an adjective in a way that suggests that he wrote this monstrosity with a thesaurus on the desk next to the keyboard. "The heavy rain went on and on and covered Durringham with an unctuous coat" (or words to that effect) -- I do recall the "unctuous" part as describing the effect of the rain. And the _Naked God_ part of the series gets worse; it looks as though the publisher cut corners on copyediting, so that we have "principal" for "principle" throughout, as well as others. The worst howler was "bowel" for "bowl." That is almost certainly not Hamilton's mistake, but it still does not enhance the reading experience. And, of course, his characters who do not speak British English do not have convincing dialogue. When he wrote this, he for instance didn't know that an American would use "around" where a Briton uses "about."

That's the bad news. The good news is that Hamilton has really weird ideas, and his writing has a sort of primitive vigor which carries you along: I did finish this thing, after all!

If you've never read anything by Peter F. Hamilton, this is not the place to start. I would recommend _Pandora's Star_ and _Judas Unleashed_ (or is it "Unchained?" Whatever.), as they are much better written -- and perhaps have better copyediting, as well.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a masterpiece, but pretty close June 3 2009
By Jim R - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This review applies to the entire trilogy, since it's essentially one giant novel, I'm writing this (and given it 5 stars) since I feel some of the reviews here are not balanced or correct. This trilogy is not perfect, a few problems:
1. The start is slow, and it didn't give the reader a good overview of the technology, economic and political structure of the Confederation (We didn't meet Confederation president until book 2, the working of neural nanonics and the truly destructive power of the antimatter isn't shown until book 3). A lot of the time is spent on a farm planet, which is boring.
2. The bad guy Quinn Dexter is way over the top and annoying with all his insane rambing about God's Brother. It's too convenient that he is the one discovered the Ghost realm and becomes nearly invincible. The good guy Joshua Calvert is also too perfect, good instinct, good piloting, get all the girls, it makes him less human.
3. The aliens are not interesting until much later in the trilogy. In book 1, both Kiint and Tyrathca are like human characters with an alien custome

So for book 1 and 2 I'll probably give 4 stars, however book 3 more than made up for that, it's 5+ with all the interest plots such as:
1. Explore the human side of the possessed
2. Backstabing and power struggle inside the possessed regimes
3. Big space battles and ground attacks
4. A journey to the other side of the Orion nebula with discovery of alien history and culture
5. Various omnipotent alien powers

Overall this is a book with very good and realistic description of future science, technology and society, interesting plots and less than ideal portrait of characters.

Now on to some of the critics of this trilogy:
1. A few people is not satisfied with the ending since it seems that a being with godlike power solved the problem. I don't think this is valid critic:
a. The author already hinted this solution near the end of book 1 and book 2, so it's hardly a surprise.
b. It's not like this is the only solution, there're alternative political and technical solutions in the works
c. The solution didn't come by easily, the main characters have to work hard to reach it in the entire book 3, so I don't feel this is cheating.
d. The scale and seriousness of the problem means it's pretty impossible for a few people to solve it single-handedly, saying the main characters should resolve the problem by their own is just ignorant of how SciFi works. SciFi is not about solving problems, but presenting problems for people to think.
e. The godlike entity didn't actually solve the problem, it gives the main character the power so that he can implement his own solution, thus the idea behind the solution IS Human, it's just the power to implement it comes from outside, it's no different from inventing some super technology to solve the problem.
f. Finally, what happened in the end of book 3 is hardly the full solution of the problem, it solves the immediate crisis and thus gives readers a sense of closure, but problem still exists and requires much more work from the entire human race.

2. Some reviews mentioned science and technical inaccuracies in this book, usually I don't mind these, but in this case accurate description of future science and technology is a strong point of this trilogy, so I think it worths pointing out some of the so called inaccuracies are just misunderstanding of our current science and technology:
a. G force: Someone said ships with 70G+ acceleration and 7G+ turns are unrealistic, well first of all, no where in the book has a human ship pulled 70Gs, that's a Kiint flyer which presumably is far superior to human technology. Human ship with antimatter drive can accelerate at 40Gs, but all the crew is in zero-tau in that case, so it's hardly an error, just creative use of future technology. As for 7G+ turns, today's fighter pilot can endure 9Gs in combat situations, it's not a stretch to think untrained human with genetic enhancement can take 7G+ 600 years in the future.
b. Thermodynamics: A reviewer feels the way the possessed utilize energy violates 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics, this is just a misunderstanding of these physcial laws. The laws of thermodynamics only applies to a closed system, you can't get energy from nothing, but you can get it from outside the system you're considering. In this case, the possessed is getting energy from some kind of parallel universe, so it's not a violation, actually Asimov explored this in his classic The Gods Themselves.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series, good characters, awesome universe April 3 2007
By Ryszard Kilarski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was a little disappointed with the vehemence of all the negative reviews. I'm a hard sci-fi & fantasy reader (been reading since 5th grade)and I didn't see any of the problems that other reviewers mention. Sure, it gets a little rambling and some plotlines get lost, but a) not all plotlines HAVE to be resolved with the end of the book and b) a work of this huge scope will have some mistakes and/or mis-edits.

I won't rehash the plot, as others have done that very well. I just gotta say it's one of my favorite series, not only because of the plot and awesome twist (the dead coming back to inhabit bodies in a hard sci-fi future? sweet!), but also because of the deep richness of this universe. It's very well realized with a great background history, and I love how each culture is so well thought out.

My one and only complaint is the villain: Just like in the Pandora's Star series (where we have a Socialist villain. Huh?), I don't get the villain. I mean, a Satanist? Really? Paging Geraldo Rivera... that is too trite a way of creating a "bad guy". I'd rather Quinn be more morally ambiguous to pin down rather than just make him a Satanist and it's done, he's evil, and there's no more writing to do. Maybe it's a British author thing?

But other than that, fantastic series.
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